‘Biggest Accident’: Poisoned Ross Bridge Greens Change Golf Course Capital Plan

Robert Trent Jones’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Course in Birmingham saw a costly conservation blunder this month. The error resulted in most of the cycle being closed indefinitely.

Instead of spreading a one-ton bag of green sand on nearly every surface on the field, the property’s maintenance crew accidentally applied the herbicide. The bug effectively poisoned the greens in holes five through 18.

The ground crew plans to inject dry charcoal and a ceramic layer in an effort to extract the herbicide so that new grass can grow. If the treatment method proves effective, the course may open this winter, Golfweek reports.

Holes one through four remain open, along with the property’s practice facilities.

Ross Bridge is one of the most popular destinations on the Trail for golfers, according to Sunbelt Golf President John Cannon, whose company operates retirement systems for Alabama courses.

It was just the wrong product in the wrong place, and it should never have happened,” Cannon said, according to the outlet. “It’s an experimental error, there’s no doubt about that.”

“Ross Bridge has a very large green area, so we know we’re not going to get 100% coverage, even in the best of conditions,” he said. “It’s really about seeing the progress we can make in the next month or so without playing on the golf course.”

Before the accident, Sunbelt Golf planned to move Ross Bridge’s greens from bent grass to Ultradwarf Bermuda grass in 2024, the outlet reported. Plans have now been submitted due to poisoning.

“We just hope we take what we have, which internally is a true tragedy, and end up 12 months from now with a better product,” Cannon said. “You have to find the bright spot somewhere when you’re going through tough times like these.

“A one-year acceleration (greens renewal) changes the entire capital plan for the course for the next two years.”

Canon described the error as the “biggest accident” seen in the cycle in more than two decades, and Canon said his company’s work toward enhancing the customer experience will continue.

“We know we can build high-quality Ultradwarf greens that our customers will appreciate year-round, and at the same time while we’re closed we have the opportunity to do some other projects,” he said. “That is our ultimate goal in this project, it is not about what actually happened but what we can achieve from it that is most important to us.

“This is the biggest accident we’ve had at any golf course on the Trail in 25 years, and things like this happen. But we’re going to make the most of it and we’re going to improve Ross Bridge.”

Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter Tweet embed

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